It’s close to impossible to miss all the posters of the candidates hanging from every possible tree, bridge and lamppost. If you are wondering what all this is about, what it means to you or what it means to Denmark – this post is for you.
With all the many smiling faces staring down at you, the election can quickly become confusing and overwhelming. Let’s break down what happens on November 16th.
So who can vote?
The first criteria is that you must be 18 years old and you must be registered; have a CPR number and have registered your address.
You must also meet one of the following requirements:
Have a Danish citizenship
Have an EU citizenship (or Norwegian or Icelandic)
Have lived uninterrupted in the Danish Kingdom (Denmark, Greenland or the Faroe Islands) for at least 4 years
British citizens who have registered their address on 31/1/2020 at the latest. If it has been registered later than this, you must fulfill the other demand (uninterrupted stay for a minimum of 4 years) in order to vote.
Who can’t vote?
People on a tolerated stay
People that have been expelled from Denmark
And of course people who do not meet the previously mentioned requirements cannot vote
If you meet the requirements to vote you will automatically be on the electoral roll and you will receive your personal poll cards at the latest five days before the election (so the 11th of November). If you have not received your poll cards, we suggest you reach out to your municipality. We say poll cards in plural because you will receive one for the local (municipal) election and one for the regional.
Note! If you are moving or have recently moved, there may be different factors to impact in which municipality and region you can vote. We advise that you consult with your local municipality in this case.
So what are we actually voting for?
Every four years, on the third Tuesday of November, we vote for the Municipal Council and the Regional Council. A lot of the decisions that affect our everyday is decided on these two levels, and that’s why it’s important to not neglect this election, even though it might not seem as important as the General Election.
The Municipal Council
The Municipal Council are responsible for a lot of relevant topics such as: public schools in the municipality, local housing supply, childcare, eldercare, Danish classes for foreigners and job opportunities for the unemployed. It is also the municipality that pay social benefits and collect taxes. The law says that there must be an uneven number of members in the Municipal Council and the size of the council depends on the size of the town. The range is from 9-31 members – with one exception being the Municipality of Copenhagen, which has 55 members due to its size. The leader of the Municipal Council is the Mayor (in Copenhagen it’s the Lord Mayor).
The Regional Council
There are five regions in Denmark: Nordjylland (Northern Jutland), Midtjylland (Mid-Jutland), Syddanmark (Southern Denmark), Sjælland (Zealand) and Hovedstaden (The Capital). Each region has a Regional Council and this council is the other half of what we’re voting for on November 21st. The regions handle the bigger tasks such as: Hospitals (general physical and mental health), public transportation and special offers for those in need. Your vote might also influence the region’s stand in regards to further development in topics like tourism, jobs and the environment. 41 candidates will be part of each Regional Council and one of them (a representative of the party with the most mandates) will be the Chairman of that Regional Council.
Who are we voting for?
In 2017, there were a total of 195 different lists (parties) fighting for seats in the Municipal Councils – I haven’t been able to find the 2021 numbers but it’s likely something similar. Some of these are small local parties, and therefore I think if you are going to vote you just need to know the parties that are part of the Parliament (plus maybe 1 or 2 extra).
In 2017, for the Regional Council for the Capital Region there are 351 candidates from a total of 32 lists/parties.
Below I’ve listed 11 parties that are in the Danish Parliament. The number in the bracket is their seats in parliament, followed by their English name and their party letter. The letter is what sets the order on the ballot.
Socialdemokratiet (49) ~ The Social Democratic Party ~ A
Venstre (39) ~ Left, Liberal Party of Denmark (Alternatively: Denmark’s Liberal Party) ~ V
Dansk Folkeparti (16) ~ Danish People’s Party ~ O
Socialistisk Folkeparti (15) ~ Socialist People’s Party ~ F
Radikale Venstre (14) ~ The Danish Social-Liberal Party ~ B
Enhedslisten (13) ~ The Red-Green Alliance ~ Ø
Det Konservative Folkeparti (12) ~ Conservative People’s Party ~ C
Nye Borgerlige (4) ~ The New Right ~ D
Liberal Alliance (3) ~ The Liberal Alliance ~ I
Alternativet (1) ~ The Alternative ~ Å
Kristendemokraterne (1) ~ Christian Democrats ~ K
Here’s the link to a very good test that’ll help you decide who you should vote for, based on your opinion on current issues. Sadly, the list is in Danish so you will have to translate it yourself if you don’t speak the language.
What else should I know?